Vidauban english summary
On 2 September 2012, at about 9.25, at the level of Vidauban in the Var département, a coach carrying 42 people on the A8 motorway – driving in the Nice direction as part of its regular service between Spain and Romania – started to zigzag, drifted to the left and crossed the motorway’s central reservation, before striking a light vehicle that was coming in the opposite direction. The coach keeled over onto its left-hand side and then skidded along the road coming to halt lying across the motorway’s three lanes, at the level of reference point (PR) 104+300.
The car that was hit by the coach was thrown against the safety barrier along the side of the motorway and came to a halt on the hard shoulder beside this barrier.
This accident cost the life of one of the coach’s passengers and injured 36 others, 32 of whom had to be hospitalised for more than 24 hours.
The direct and immediate cause of the accident was the bursting of a tyre on the coach’s front, left-hand wheel.
This tyre-burst was caused by the separation of this tyre’s tread from its cap plies. This was the consequence of the serious damage that it had been subjected to during its lifetime, under the combined effects of prolonged use when under-inflated, an impact and defects affecting the front axle on which it was mounted.
Furthermore, the poor maintenance of some of the coach’s safety systems, the installation of a device enabling the override of the permanent speed limiter it was fitted with pursuant to the regulations, and the numerous infringements of EU regulations regarding driving times and rest periods that were noted, point to a failure by the company concerned to take the relevant safety rules into consideration, which played a decisive role in the occurrence of this accident.
In the light of this information and building on the technical investigations already conducted into accidents caused by tyres bursting, BEA-TT reminded road transport companies of :
- the need for rigorous monitoring of the conditions of storage and use of vehicle tyres ;
- the special precautions to be taken when replacing tyres mounted on a front steering axle in order to ensure they are in perfect condition ;
- the importance of complying with the recommendations issued by tyre-makers concerning the verification of tyre pressure and the visual inspection of the tyre’s condition.
Furthermore, without making any formal recommendations, BEA-TT drew the attention of the authorities in charge of traffic police and the issuing of transport licenses to the need for ensuring regular verifications of road transport services for travellers over long distances in order to detect and put an end to the practices that some companies may develop that are contrary to safety. In this respect, BEA-TT reported the transport company that operated this coach that was at the origin of the accident analysed in this report to the Minister of the Interior and the Transport Minister.